INSIDE Chico State
0 March 3, 2000
Volume 30 Number 14
  A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico




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MEP Wins NSF Competition for $100,000

The Mathematics and Engineering Program (MEP) was notified on February 16 that it will receive more than $100,000 in scholarship money from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Paul Villegas, director of the Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement program (MESA), of which MEP is a part, said that the award is the result of an NSF competition among 400 schools with engineering programs. CSU, Chico was one of 100 schools to receive scholarship money to encourage students to complete technical degrees.

There is a national shortage of engineers, and corporations pressure the U.S. government to provide increasing numbers of visas to foreign engineers, said Villegas. NSF sponsored the competition to help more U.S. students, especially those who are educationally and economically disadvantaged, become engineers.

A technical degree takes longer to complete than many other degrees. Also, because of the difficulty of courses -- calculus, advanced calculus, physics, for example -- students' grade point averages are often not as high as those from other disciplines. These two factors put financial stress on engineering students: financial aid can run out before a degree is completed, and lower GPA's make students less competitive for scholarships.

"The scholarship money is a boost for the Mesa Engineering Program. We are going to provide a lot of needy students with the help they need to finish their degrees," said Villegas.

MESA, under the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology has helped more than 110 students become engineers in its sixteen years. Many of those students now work with corporations such as Intel, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM. These same corporations wrote letters of support to NSF about the high quality of education engineers from the program have received. -- KM



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